HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) today launches a ‘Tax Health Plan' (TCP) aimed at reaping unpaid tax back from medical consultants.
Medical professionals have until 31 March 2010 to register their intention to disclose, with completion and payment to HMRC made by 30 June 2010.
Today's launch is the first stage of a campaign to encourage professionals to address their unpaid tax liabilities quickly.
The TCP offers those eligible a reduced penalty of 10% on unpaid tax, and also removes the prospect of prosecution or public 'naming and shaming'.
HMRC data suggests some medical professionals may be understating the amount of earnings upon which UK tax and duties is due.
Stephen Camm, tax partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), says: "These types of campaign are much more cost effective for HMRC than traditional tax investigations - they are the future.
"They draw a line in the sand - if someone doesn't come forward under an opportunity like this they can expect little leniency when it comes to future penalties, which will be extremely high - up to 100% of the tax."
HMRC is increasingly looking to tackle perceived high tax risk areas through the use of campaigns, possibly using the same methodology that it had successfully developed to support the recent tax 'amnesties'.
The THP follows the ‘New Disclosure Opportunity' (NDO) aimed at those with undeclared overseas income, which closed on 4 January.
HMRC is using its new information powers to obtain huge amounts of data from third parties about individuals' tax affairs.
Offshore bank accounts from UK banks have already been subject to the powers. Now NHS Trusts, private hospitals and private medical insurers will also be approached for information.
Gary Ashford, chairman of the Chartered Institute of Taxation's Management of Taxes (CIOT) committee, says: "The THP shows the way ahead for HMRC. We have just seen the New Disclosure Opportunity end with 10,000 disclosures to HMRC. Now it is the turn of health professionals; clearly other sectors may follow."
The CIOT does have concerns about the timescale of this new initiative, however.
Ashford adds: "The THP is targeting a problem which does exist. The CIOT broadly welcomes the THP but we do think the time windows are very tight and we would have preferred a little more time to ensure medical professionals are aware of the opportunity."
People wanting to disclose can notify HMRC by phone on 0845 600 4508 (international +44 1202 585 350) or visit the website at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/tax-health-plan/.
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